Screen printing isn’t just about printing T-shirts. You can print so many different things: tote bags, posters, heat transfers, boxes, and more. One creative way to showcase your screen printing skills and add a personal touch to your brand is by screen printing your own business cards. Think of it as a small sales pitch. Giving out hand-printed business cards is a great way to show the customer what you can do and show off your standard of quality. In the video, print expert Josh Wells shows three easy steps to screen print your own business cards.
STEP 1: ART PREP
If you’re printing a bunch of cards, lay out your film so the business cards fill the whole sheet. Since you’ll be printing on paper and cutting the cards out later, you’ll save a ton of time by printing 12 cards at a time on the same piece of paper. Use a higher mesh screen for this job. Printing on paper requires water-based ink, which is thinner than plastisol. Josh chooses a 200 mesh screen.
Speaking of paper: you’ll want to use a heavier weight paper, like upwards of 80 weight. This way, the paper will hold up to printing and won’t curl when the ink is drying. Josh uses 100 weight black paper.
PRO TIP: Black paper is one of the hardest paper colors to print on. The black surface makes ink colors seem more dull, because it absorbs more light than other paper colors. If you haven’t printed on paper before, start with white paper. Once you’ve got that process dialed, move onto black paper.
Once your screens are burnt, it’s time to set up the job.
STEP 2: SET UP YOUR PRESS
When printing on paper, there’s a few tools you’ll want to use to give you the best results possible. One piece of equipment that really comes in handy is a vacuum platen. A vacuum platen keeps the paper in place as you are printing (think of it as a reverse air hockey table). It also cuts out the need for any adhesive. The vacuum is the glue.
Why wouldn’t you want to use a regular platen? Well, with a regular platen, you’ll have to lay down a layer of water-based pallet adhesive. This is all fine and dandy until it comes time to take the paper off the platen. If you’re not careful about it, you can distort the image and the paper if you have enough adhesive on the platen.
Whether you’re using a vacuum platen or a regular platen with adhesive, create a jig on your platen once you’ve registered the job. You can use anything from paint sticks to pieces of aluminum. As long as the paper stays in place while you’re printing, you’re good to go.
You’ll want to use a high-solids acrylic (HSA) water-based ink like Green Galaxy inks for printing business cards. Plastisol ink sits on top of whatever substrate it’s printed on, while water-based ink bonds with the substrate. You don’t want to be handing out scratched and worn-off business cards. Josh chooses Comet White and Galactic Gold to print his business cards. You’ll also want to add a low cure ink additive like Warp Drive to the ink. You’ll learn why later.
A high squeegee durometer is best for printing on paper. Use the highest durometer squeegee you have in your shop. In the video, Josh uses a 70 durometer squeegee.
STEP 3: PRINT AND CURE
When printing on paper, you want to do as few print passes as possible. Too many passes and you might smash out the design, blurring the fine detail you’re looking for.
Once you’re done printing, let the cards air dry. Thanks to the Warp Drive, the ink will chemically cure over a 48 hour period. If you choose to use heat to cure the paper, be aware that the paper can curl in the dryer and ruin the business cards.
Once the prints have dried, cut the paper into separate cards. You can use a paper cutter or scissors if you’re feeling accurate. Slip a few in your wallet and you’re good to go. Printing your own business cards is a great way to give another personal touch to your business.